Michelle's Reviews > Matched

Matched by Ally Condie
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's review
May 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, young-adult, dystopian
Read in May, 2011

I'm actually surprised I put this book on my list...or read it for that matter. Not because I don't like dystopian fiction. I do. Fahrenheit 451 was a favorite sophomore year in high school. And 1984 remains one of the best and most haunting books I've ever read. I remember sitting in my AP English class and just picking it up off of the shelf. I don't think my teacher even knew I took it. I couldn't put it down. (I did, eventually, return it!)

I have to admit that I'm always reluctant when I know that the dystopian story is meant for young adults. Perhaps I haven't had a lot of luck in this area, picking stories (in this genre that are meant for teens) that speak to me as a grown-up. Often I find myself thinking...hmmm, I might have liked this when I was fourteen.

But Matched took me pleasantly by surprise. What started off as a simple story became much more nuanced and complex than I expected. So there is a young girl, Cassia, who reaches her seventeenth birthday. And everyone in her society is matched when they turn seventeen. The society picks out the perfect person, one who is ideal for compatibility and for having children with. Cassia is happy with her match...at first. And then she discovers someone she might love differently. Now she has to choose.

Simple enough premise. What made the story for me was Cassia. She's a sweet, good girl who really wants to do the right thing. And yet she feels this pull toward living her own life. And as she discovers that she is a person with her own thoughts, her own ideas, and her own destiny, she knows she must fight the society. It won't be easy, but she makes the choice.

I also really enjoyed the way the society's perfect facade slowly disintegrates over the course of the story. It's all rosy on the surface, but there are problems. And Cassia isn't the only one to notice that. She gets support from the most unlikely of places, and people reach out who really shouldn't run the risk. I like that underlying current of a society on the brink of falling apart, a people on the edge of rebellion. It makes me all the more excited to read the second book, to see the rebellion come to life.

Don't even get me started on Condie's use of Dylan Thomas's poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. It was awesome. I love it when writers take a piece of another writer's work and then build a story that incorporates that work into the motifs and themes of their story. The poem takes the novel to another level. It was, excuse the seeming pun, a perfect match of thematic elements. Stupendous!

And finally, something clean to read. I really really appreciated that. No swears, no sex. Just a good story, good story telling and really great prose.

The only reason I gave it four stars? The starting was a bit slow and at times it does feel a little juvenile. But not enough to make me think it wasn't worth the read. It was! (And it is a pretty quick read, too...).

(Note...this is a little aside that has nothing to do whatsoever with the merits of the novel. Proceed if you wish.) Of course, Ms. Condie is a BYU grad and Mormon, so it's probably to be expected that the story was clean. But I guess that is what makes me cheer for the book all the more. She is proving that you can write a novel for a general YA audience, keep it clean, and still sell books...something I think publishers might have forgotten. And it's always fun to see a fellow BYUer's success!
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Melanie Jacobson Yeah, I knew Ally Condie had chops from reading her LDS market stuff, but I think she really did a fantastic job of looking at an element of dystopia that hadn't been tackled before. Good stuff.

Michelle So what's her LDS market stuff like. I'm a reluctant LDS fiction kind of girl (but don't worry...I'm super excited to read your book!). Did you like her LDS books?

Jill So, just found out that this book is our "July pick" for book club. After reading your review, I'm looking forward to it now. Thanks!

Michelle Jamie told me she can't put it down! So that's a good sign. And I think it will be a great book to discuss.

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